Airgas’ improper safety procedures led to fatal gas leak


An official report into a fatal liquid nitrogen leak at Xytex Cryo International, a sperm bank in Augusta, Georgia, revealed that Airgas had failed to impose proper safety procedures.

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens released findings that showed that Airgas failed to update the decal of a 3,000-gallon liquid nitrogen bulk storage tank, after a Xytex employee identified the system was leaking.

Airgas installed the tank in December 2016. After the leak was discovered, Airgas was notified and a USA service manager determined that the tank would require recalibration. However, Airgas USA failed to update the decal to the new pressure fill setting and consequently the system became over-pressurised and started leaking liquid nitrogen gas inside the building.

“This industrial gas leak may have been avoided if the proper servicing decal had been affixed to the bulk storage tank.”

Ralph Hudgens, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner 

Xytex employee Anita Wylds and Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Greg Meagher both responded to an alarm at the facility located at 1100 Emmett Street. Shortly after entering the building Wylds fell unconscious and was severely injured from exposure to hypothermia hazards. Sergeant Meagher entered the building in search of Wylds but also collapsed moments later. He would later die from environmental suffocation.

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